Wednesday, June 30, 2021

"Rock and roll destroyed history"

I've been reading John Sinclair's remarkable Guitar Army, a gathering of his writings first published in 1972, and the three passages below from the "Preview" section have been thrumming in me for days. In its propulsive energy, romantic yearnings, and smarts, Sinclair's righteous and excitable prose calls to mind Kerouac, Cassady, and Ginsberg's letters and the rawly earnest passion of Lester Bangs, among other zealots. Although he was ultimately a free jazz guy, and for all of his dissenting politics and interests in wide-lens cultural disquiet, this man truly got—that is, truly got—basic, raw rock and roll. I love reading "on the ground" accounts of early rock and roll, the personal and cultural impact it had on astonished teenagers, the tops of their heads lifting off, and it's fascinating, and not a little moving, to read Sinclair describe and find that pulse around him in the late-60s and early-70s, an era often associated with a weed-lethargic slowing down of the kind of eighth-note mania the passé early rockers were fueled by. 

I don't want to critique Sinclair's arguments here; in any event, later in the chapter he soberly acknowledges the failures of his revolution, and that he (seems to) truly have believed that rock and roll (plus LSD) might offer turned-on kids horizon-opening, electric epiphanies and unprecedented political power is, from my vantage point, both quaint and deeply charming. Rather, I want to celebrate the joy and earnestness of his imagined Future, however naive it might've been in conception. It all came back to community, love, and loud, amplified music. Rock and roll destroyed history—are you kidding me? That's a book in five words! (The golf line's great, too.) As you read, you can virtually hear doors flying open that Sinclair didn't know existed when he was a Midwestern teenager, let alone know were locked. My favorite line might be "Kids spouted their parents’ rehashed racist dogma between verses of 'Long Tall Sally' or 'Ain’t That Loving You Baby' and started to figure out which made the most sense, the Ku Klux Klan or the Cleftones?"—that's some rockin' epistemology, right there. I can only imagine the heady sounds and ideas that Sinclair and members of the MC5 swapped during late-night, drug-fueled raps about Little Richard. 

"It was incredible!" Sinclair writes about 1950s rockers:
These dudes opened their mouths to sing and a whole new race of mutants leaped out dancing and screaming into the future, driving fast cars and drinking beer and bouncing around half-naked in the back seats, getting ready to march through the 60's and soar into the 70's like nothing else had ever existed before. Rock and roll kicked off the 21st century almost fifty years ahead of time—it made the leap from the mechanical to the electronic age in the space of three minutes, 45 revolutions per minute, crystallizing all the new energy generated by the clash between these two monstrous technologies and squeezing it into the most compact possible form, the most explosive (and implosive!) form possible, and then shot that energy out through the radio into every corner of Amerika to retribalize its children and transform them into something essentially and substantially different from the race which had brought them into the world.


These black singers and magic music-makers were the real ”freedom riders” of Amerika, but nobody even knew it. They walked right into the bedrooms of middle-class Euro-Amerika and took over, whispering their super-sensual maniac drivel into the ears and orifices of the daughters of Amerika, turning its sons into lust-crazed madmen and fools, breaking down generations and generations of self-denial and desensitivity and completely destroying the sanctity of the Euro-Amerikan home forever—and nobody even knew what was happening! Kids spouted their parents’ rehashed racist dogma between verses of ”Long Tall Sally” or ”Ain’t That Loving You Baby” and started to figure out which made the most sense, the Ku Klux Klan or the Cleftones? It was no contest, even though the game went on and on before we realized that it had been over a long time ago. We had been given a spectrum from white to gray, from the Minutemen to Richard P. Nixon, or from Jake LaMotta to Yogi Berra, from Kate Smith to Kay Starr, and all of a sudden there was this whole new world of color our parents had never told us about, there was a whole new range of possibilities that they didn't even know about, and just because they were so dumb wasn't going to keep us from checking it out, no matter how weird or how silly it sounded to people who thought playing golf, for chrissakes, was the most exciting thing on earth.



Rock and roll was just what we'd been waiting for, all right, and we didn't even know it like that. Rock and roll hit us right at the right time, right when we were ready for it, and it was so perfect we didn't even give it a second thought. Rock and roll destroyed history. It caught us coming out of grade school and we thought everything had always been like that. We couldn't get the old people to understand that we were different from them, that we had a life of our own and we were determined to live it the way wanted to, and at the same time we couldn't ever understand why they were so up tight either. They kept talking about the past and wanted to drag us back into it, but we didn't have any idea of what they were talking about beyond the certain knowledge in our cells that we couldn't live like them, we had to follow our own way, and if we couldn’t articulate what it was we wanted we sure could sense it.
If your ears aren't ringing, you weren't reading closely enough.

Photo of Sinclair testifying from Guitar Army.

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Et tu spiritus dance

40 years ago today the Fleshtones released their epic I.R.S. single "The World Has Changed" b/w "All Around The World." The February 1981 recording sessions at R.K.O. Studios in London were fueled by Watney’s “Party Seven” cans—seven pints of strong ale. Plus an inventive add-on. Here's the story as I tell it in Sweat: The Story of the Fleshtones, America's Garage Band:

But the room’s low ceilings, carpeted walls, and overall bygone feel weren’t exactly inspiring, and before long Peter and Mazda were out on the damp London streets searching for speed. “I didn’t have any contacts in London,” Mazda says. “And we certainly weren’t going to ring up Miles at the label and say, ‘We need drugs!’ “ So the fellas went down the block to a local chemist and bought a half a dozen bottles of Benalyn cough syrup, with codeine-morphine sediment. “We let the sediment sink to the bottom, poured off the syrup from the top and got quite high on that,” Mazda recalls with amusement. “That and the Party Seven’s....

A dead-in-your-tracks grind and growl was featured on “The World Has Changed,” a new song from Peter and Keith and one of three tracks laid down swiftly at RKO, along with “All Around the World” and the civics-lesson “R-I-G-H-T-S,” with Keith singing (“Keith was hard to record, he does not have a pop voice,” Mazda admits charitably). The sound and attitude in these recordings were as far from Shangri-La sonically as RKO was geographically. “The World Has Changed” bristles with barbarous energy, as if the early Yardbirds were dragged along the streets of the East Village, charged with low-rent amphetamines. Mazda encouraged the guys to layer on as much percussion as they could handle, and his literal hands-on production—he’d grab the reel, delay it, let go, the tape leaping and lurching forward recklessly—beat up the song to a rumbling, pulpy mass, the darkest, most muscular Fleshtones sound to date. The band would always consider the recording of “The World Has Changed” among their favorites. “I am really proud,” says Mazda, who feels that the ideal way to hear the song is through the small speakers of a jukebox. “That record totally rocks,” 

Titus Turner’s “All Around the World,” filtered through Edwin Starr’s funky, irresistibly danceable 1970 version, was a jolly high-energy streak through sweaty R&B territory, the kind of song prized by the guys in that it was amusing, rocking, and suitably obscure. Marek wailed his first recorded solo vocals—the riotous Grits ain’t groceries, fried eggs ain’t poultry, Mona Lisa was a man chorus—and the whole bands churns, Bill’s hiccupping drums and Marek’s slap-bass echoing the song’s strong black vernacular. Peter hollers the desperate words and blows harp (“We spent hours getting the filthiest harp sound possible,” remembers Mazda) while the Action Combo, in what would be their last appearance on a Fleshtones record, honks happily behind him. 

The raw immediacy of these two recordings came courtesy of the spontaneous luck that a lot of good rock & roll is borne of: sessions cobbled together quickly, songs chosen on the fly, performances breakneck and loose. The band would try and recapture the energy of these brief hours in the studio for years to come. “Those were brilliant sessions,” Peter admits. “We were in the right studio, and Mazda was still trying to prove that he could do it without stretching out too much. He had limited technology in front of him, which is a real plus, and he was very willing to experiment. It’s a shame, actually, that we didn’t have more material prepared right then, because that would have been the right time to record a whole album.” Peter’s memories may be burnished a bit by nostalgia, but a decade and a half would pass before The Fleshtones were this pleased with a recording session again. “We should have been locked down at RKO,” Peter laments. “We should have been sentenced to record there.”

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Looking west, dreaming east

When I was growing up, my family would rent a house at Rehoboth, or, later, Bethany Beach, Delaware, where we'd stay for a week. Among many distinct memories are the seemingly endless white-knuckle crossing of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge (I wouldn't dare look over the edge), trips in the evenings to the bright-lights boardwalk in Ocean City, Maryland, the roar of the infinitely dark ocean sounding ancient and mysterious, and one idle, humid afternoon when my older brother Phil stood with me at the shore, pointed at the horizon, and said, "That way is England."

This was quite literally music to my ears, as I peered into the glare at the vanishing point of ocean and sky and heard "Please Please Me" or "Ticket To Ride" or whatever Beatles tune I'd been obsessing over that week. Catnip to my imagination, this lesson in geography sent me, and I'd stare and stare across the ocean and imagine that if I took a straight line (somehow) I'd end up in Liverpool, or London, the mythic end of golden voyage for this budding Anglophile. I imagined double-decker busses and Big Ben, heard that accent under imagined gray skies turning blue and back again. Turns out that my brother was ill-informed, of course, as a straight line due east from the Delaware would've landed me somewhere in southern Portugal, a place about which I had no interest, and certainly no rockin' fantasies. My brother might've been pulling a fast one on me (quite likely), but in any event I was unaware of any geographic inaccuracies. For me, over an immense, unfathomably big ocean, England lay just beyond my reach.


I recently returned from a week in Venice, California, visiting family, where I stood at the shoreline and gazed westward—at what, I couldn't have told you precisely. Google Maps informed me later, yet I was struck by what little conjuring was stirring in me as I looked. If I grew up in southern California, visited the beach, and lost myself in contemplating the horizon, I wonder what I have dreamed about? What music or culture or fantasies of the vast, golden Pacific would've possessed me inside my limited perspective and vivid imagination? Chinese food? M*A*S*H? Hula girls? Here's my point: I left Maryland for good when I was twenty-two, and have lived in northern Illinois for over twenty-five years now, yet I still feel—in my bones, in my DNA, and in my dreams—like an Eastern Seaboard guy. When I look across the ocean, any ocean, I can only hear and smell the Mersey.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Human Being Soundboard

I'm late to Get Back's 2005 reissue of the MC5's Live at the Saginaw Civic Centre, First Jan 1970. [I was alerted by Gina Myers on Twitter that this show likely occurred at the Saginaw Auditorium, as the Civic Centre wasn't built until 1972.] I picked it up with some trepidation: we all know the hit-and-miss experience of unauthorized live recordings, how quality can dip from song to song, verse to verse, an otherwise spirited set rendered lifeless by a poor mix. As MC5 live boots go, this record sounds pretty great: Fred "Sonic" Smith and Wayne Kramer's guitars are in-your-face loud, if tuning-challenged, and their playing's focused and expressive, drummer Dennis Thompson's drums snap, and Mike Davis's bass is fuller than on your average lo-fi live recording. Sadly, Rob Tyner's vocals are buried at the bottom of much of the 5's maelstrom, though his voice does fight its way to the surface on occasion, and his righteous and humorous between-song patter remains loud and clear. The set list moves among tracks from the band's debut ("Rambling Rose," "Rocket Reducer No. 62," "Kick Out The Jams"), covers ("It's A Man's World," Jody Reynolds's "Fire Of Love"), and new material from Back In The U.S.A., released two weeks after this show. 

The band is kickin' on this New Year's Day, and sound as if they're in great spirits, though the tape hiss and dodgy sound quality lay a kind of murky transparency over the proceedings. Yet that's what I love about this album, and why I rank it, perhaps perversely, nearly as high as I do Kick Out The Jams. (We all have our favorite unauthorized live albums that we prefer to "the cannon.") This is a soundboard recording, yet of course missed cues, bums notes, and fuck-ups abound. Recordings like this feel more like how a show feels when you're in the venue, as opposed to what's offered later on a cleaned-up live album, of which there are countless examples (including, of course, Kick Out The Jams). To my ears (and heart), vocals dropping in and out of the the mix or buried in the roar, the sheen of a "well produced" recording replaced with an overwhelming wall of noise flattening out individual band parts: this represents the sound of an average show more accurately than what official live albums can present. As Damon Krukowski observed last year in an Art in America piece on live abums: "The reason should be obvious to anyone using Instagram: editing makes a difference."

Before the MC5 plays "It's A Man's World," some sort of technical snafu with the P.A. occurs, and what follows are a few minutes of band mumbling, guitar tuning, and off-mic jokes that likely would've been edited out of an official recording; here, the boring interruption, so common in shows, drops me right into the evening's tightrope vibe. Live at the Saginaw Civic Centre sounds like the memory of a show rather than a document of that show, the replaying of highlights in your imagination as you're heading home afterward, the sweat drying on your skin, your ears ringing. At a show, I rarely pay close attention to the audio mix or to each of the elements of a band's sound; my hearing, sensitive as it is, can only pick up so much subtlety among moving parts, and anyway I'm too busy getting off on the spectacle, the lights, the people around me, wrestling with whatever biases or desires or fantasies about the band or the night that I brought with me to the show. The official release of a show usually sounds different than the show you played back in your head on your pillow that night, or a week later. Human beings aren't soundboards: we're sweaty, maybe drunk, probably grinning animals through whom sound moves, possibly changing our night or our lives. Try mixing that.


In March 1985 the Fleshtones recorded a show at The Gibus in Paris; I.R.S Records released a live album Speed Connection II in the fall. (The first Speed Connection came out in Europe only, within days of the band's legendary residency at The Gibus, and is considerably rougher sounding.) The Fleshtones' singer Peter Zaremba once told me that he wished that I.R.S. had gone with a more lo-fi approach. “The best thing we could have done was get a Nagra recorder, sit it in the back of the place, hang up two microphones, and record it,” he said, adding, “They didn’t do that.” Though it's sourced from a soundboard, Live at the Saginaw Civic Centre has the kind of feel that Zaremba was probably hoping for. All you've got is two ears? All you need is two mics.

Back in the '80s, an ex of mine would on occasion smuggle a boxy portable tape player into shows to record them. I recall driving home after a gig she'd recorded, the player hanging from her rear view mirror as we drove, the tinny sound blasting from a shitty little speaker sounding like—feeling like—Surround sound, moving as it was through our rich memories of the show only minutes old. 

Dig the slow burn of "Fire Of Love" ("written by a fellow sweaty teenager") and the fierce riffing of the soon-to-be-released "Teenage Lust":

Photo: Joel Brodsky

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

You nearly killed me, missed again

The Stooges at Michigan Palace in Detroit, February 9, 1974, or, what an implosion sounds like:

"I think a good song for you would be fifty-five minute 'Louie Louie.' Let's give 'em an extra treat, do 'Louie...'. Would you rather we just ran through our programmed set and looked real slick or would you rather we just relaxed and did 'Louie Louie'? 

"'Louie Louie'! I never thought that it'd come to this, baby!"


"They threw a Strohs.... 

"Ladies and gentlemen, with 'Louie Louie' and.... Thank you very much to the person who threw this glass bottle at my head. You nearly killed me but you missed again. Keep trying next week!"

Monday, June 7, 2021

At the edge of fifteen

My latest essay for The Normal School is live here. I consider Stevie Nicks, John Lennon, Braille Party, and grief, more or less in that order.

You can read my recent Normal School essays here.

Friday, June 4, 2021

Calamity and Repair

Late in Michael Davis's difficult memoir I Brought Down the MC5, the born-and-bred Motor City musician lands on two phrases that pretty much sum up his story: "confused and content" and "calamity and repair." A little while earlier, he writes that his first thought after having struck his wife in the presence of his young son was I needed more beer—which, inadvertently, could been the subtitle to this book.

I'm not cherry picking moments at the outset to make a churlish point: Davis's personal behavior throughout his story is largely self-centered, and he's unsparing about the reckless, sometimes cruel places his alcoholism and drug abuse brought him. Reading the book gives the impression of hearing a legendary townie a couple bar stools down holding forth appealingly, and as rock memoirs go, many aspects of this book are ideal: Davis is brutally honest throughout, whether he's criticizing former bandmates or his own louche behavior. He writes vividly about his decades-long alcohol and drug abuse—days lost to benders, shooting up in grimy gas station bathrooms, wrecking cars, arrests, and the rest. His early love of rock and roll (Davis was born in 1943), his first bands, the MC5's formation and their early shows (about which I was startled to learn that they covered the Beatles' "This Boy") and alignment with John Sinclair, international touring burdened with band animosity and bouts of drinking, lightened by rapturous responses from audiences and plenty of free sex with hippies, vexed recording sessions—all are related in detail and with the I was there POV you relish in music memoirs. With the exception of drummer Dennis Thompson, the members of the MC5 come across in Davis's telling as equal parts insecure, arrogant, and aloof, guitarists Wayne Kramer and Fred Smith particularly, their boorish behavior softened with the odd moment of beery or weed-fostered band solidarity. Davis felt estranged from singer Rob Tyner since the early days of the band, and the two never warmed to each other before Tyner's death in 1991.

Inter-band dysfunction is hardly rare, though in Davis's case the unease with his band members seemed to have been a function of his own general feelings of alienation and his difficulty in connecting deeply with other human beings. He hesitantly traces his "lone wolf" identity to his family's lack of warmth and their disinclination to talk about difficult subjects. Davis's parents are portrayed as unconditionally supportive of him, through adolescent drug and alcohol escapades and sketchy marriages up through and beyond his mid-1970s stint in federal prison for drug offenses. Yet, emotional distance prevailed. "My family was something less than open," Davis writes early in the book. "We just didn't communicate that well. Talking was not our forte; silence was our preferred state, each of us away in our private world of thoughts." Later, home after his stint in prison, he asks: "What was it that kept us from sharing our real feelings? I don't know. After the initial greetings and obvious conversation, it seemed that an impasse always occurred that propelled us off in other directions." When that impasse unsurprisingly manifested in other relationships in Davis's life, he usually responded by bolting, and losing himself in drugs and alcohol, scarring addictive behavior that wore him down physically and spiritually. 

Near the end of the book, he arrives at an epiphany of sorts: "I don’t know why, but I've never bothered to worry over the direction of my life ever since well, first departing my parents' protective haven."

Drug addiction, alcoholism, and futile romantic pursuits all marked me as either an emotionally disturbed individual or a damned fool. I was determined to experience everything and refused to be constrained by society, the law, or my own better judgment.
Variations on I don't know pop up all over the book, either as an evasive gestures on Davis's part or as genuine befuddlement. Either way, he often fails to navigate the distance between "emotionally disturbed" and "damn fool"—and the book might've been stronger had he lingered in the nervy implications of that complicated gulf a while longer.


Davis certainly doesn't sidestep his feelings about the MC5's righteous White Panther politics, their hostile, and ostensibly unifying, public front. From the beginning, Davis found the posturing dubious, describing inane press conferences where Kramer parroted Sinclair's politics. "I remember taking Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book into the bathroom one day for reading material. All of our former housemates were always quoting from the book. I read through the first few pages, and that was all it took. It was suddenly apparent that this directive was made for a regiment of ants." He adds dryly, "If you happened to be an ant, here was the plan and you’d better not deviate." Sensitive, intellectually curious, and innately introverted, Davis was sympathetic to the band's Leftist politics, but he recoiled at the hypocrisy: "I didn’t mind us bashing away at the establishment, but I certainly didn't see how we were in line to take it over if it all came crashing down."
Life went on, and day-by-day, our habits became routine. Our rhetoric became more homogenous, decrying the events of the [Vietnam] war and other profound errors of the time. Our voices were loud and our performances were rowdy, challenging the rules of obscenity and decorum.
"But," he adds, "I only wanted to be in a rock and roll band. This crusade to forge a new world seemed ludicrous, a Quixotic lunge at an imaginary adversary."

Davis describes a moment in New York City where the irony between the band's adopted politics and their lifestyle was cast in sharp relief. The MC5 were booked to play a pivotal gig at the Fillmore East, but the show was delayed as the Motherfuckers, a group of radicals who believed that the virtuous band from Detroit had their back, protested loudly, first outside and then during the show. "We came to play music, not politics," Rob Tyner shouted from the stage, unhelpfully. After the raucous performance, members of the Motherfuckers confronted band MC Brother J.C. Crawford on the floor. "Immediately, Wayne entered the fracas with endless explanations, trying to justify our position," Davis writes. "I stood by with not a single idea how to solve the debate. It was a helpless mess. After a while, the theater staff insisted we should leave through the back door, and out into an alley. Once there, the spirited debate resumed."
Looking to my right, I saw the blade of a knife in someone's hand. Two stretch limos idled nearby, sent by the record label to drive us to our hotel. It came down to this: If we got into those limos, we were the Enemy.
The Enemy gladly ducked into the limos and made it safely to their hotels, where their partying continued. The wide interval between the street-savvy Motherfuckers and the luxury vehicles? Not lost on Davis. (Wayne Kramer gives a full, detail-rich account of this night in "The Fillmore Fiasco" chapter in his memoir The Hard Stuff. He and Davis essentially come to the same conclusions.)

Davis writes equally well about rock and roll, especially his band's incendiary version of it. Onstage, he writes, "it was impossible to hear the vocals unless we were playing softly, which rarely happened. Things would get so confused at times that we would look at each other with panic and frustration, trying to get back in sync. I can’t think of a single show that didn’t include some form of musical derailment. Some were momentary, while others were extended lapses into musical chaos. Dennis would become completely unhinged when none of the instruments were playing on the same beat. Yet at times, he was the reason for the fault. Who could hear what was going on?" He wonders if maybe his band's mistakes "were actually a key part of our act, unintended, but nonetheless a part of the show," adding that "the desperation and drama that was created, and the rescue that took place must have had an emotional value that made seeing the MC5 unparalleled. I can’t say, being one who was on the stage."

"If I’d been a fan," he writes elsewhere, "coming to an MC5 show that balanced on a tightrope, pitting the power of law enforcement against the raucous energy of a crowd of hormonal teenagers and psychedelic rabble rousers wearing spangled colors, draping flags over their amplifiers, blasting high energy beats and screaming liberation anthems, then I would have been just as spirited and carried away by the event as any young person could possibly be." Interestingly, he considers the MC5's second single, "Looking At You," and their final album High Time to be the band's high-water marks; he was deeply disappointed at the way Kick Out The Jams turned out, in terms of its sound and its packaging, and, like the whole world it seemed, complained about the lack of ballsy low-end on the band's second album, Back In The USA.

Following his dismissal from the MC5 and his time in jail, Davis took odd jobs as necessary—auto body work, deliveries, landscaping, a meaningful, enriching job at a nature center—to support his drinking and drugging, and his growing family, and he dropped in and out of various art schools, stoking his lifelong love of painting. He carried his chops, if not copious amounts of self-confidence, into several bands, some middling, the most notable being Destroy All Monsters, the artsy, ragtag noise outfit headed for most of its career by Stooges guitarist Ron Asheton with the singer Niagara. (Davis gets a dig in at the wildly dysfunctional band, with which he never jelled, by titling the chapter "Delirious Alcoholic Megalosaurs.") Asheton comes across as unfriendly and self-centered—but then in this book just about everyone does, from ex-band members to ex-wives. This seems to stem not from meanness in Davis's spirit or from paranoia but from his inability to allow himself to become intimate with anyone for extended periods. Sadly, the joy of making music never seemed to last very long for Davis before it was erased by drink and drugs, replaced by the need to score, find The One woman (she's often recklessly young), or secure hard solitude. Moments of joy would occur: in one of the more charming moments in the book, Davis, while in Detroit on a late-career tour, brings members of a band he's playing with to visit the crumbling facade of the Fortune Records building on Third Avenue. Fan-boy gushing, he asks "an old bum" who's ambling by to take his picture in front of the building. If only Davis had been around to marvel at and to read Billy Miller and Michael Hurtt's loving history of the label, Mind Over Matter: The Myths & Mysteries of Detroit's Fortune Records (for which John Sinclair wrote an Afterword).

I Brought Down the MC5 is an affecting memoir, if a dispiriting read. It reminds me a bit of Ace Frehley's No Regrets, in that each book present a man who lost years to alcohol and drug abuse, and for whom music was always a saving grace, more powerful a lure than intimacies of other kinds. Ace, of course, has survived. Davis died of liver failure in 2012. What's intriguing is what Davis left out of his book; an Epilogue states that, for unknown reasons Davis declined to write about his later strong marriage to Angela Davis, his thriving and recognized art work, his reunion with Kramer and Thompson in DKT/MC5, and his establishment of the Music Is Revolution Foundation, which supports music education programs in public schools. Perhaps he planned on covering those in a second memoir. Sadly we won't get that; instead we have a spirited and unprecedented first act and a muddling, unfocused, and often unhappy second act, the calamity before the repair.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Happy 80th, Charlie

"I wanted to play drums because I fell in love with the glitter and the lights, but it wasn't about adulation. It was being up there playing."

Photo of Watts by Jill Furmanovsky; POV shot of Watts's '65 to '68 drumkit and of his stool and pedal snapped by yours truly at Exhibitionism at Navy Pier in 2017.